Saturday, November 25, 2006

More Not-So-Correct Predictions

"So many centuries after the Creation, it is unlikely that anyone could find hitherto unknown lands of any value."
Spanish Royal Commission, rejecting Christopher Columbus' proposal to sail west.

"You're planning to make a ship sail against wind and tide by lighting a fire below deck?? I don't have time to listen to that kind of nonsense!"
Napoleon, about Robert Fultons plans to make a Steamboat.

"I believe in the horse. The automobile is merely a passing phenomonon."
Emperor Wilhelm II

"Airplanes suffers from so many technical faults that it is only a matter of time before any reasonable man realizes that they are useless!"
Scientific American (1910)

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

Attributed to Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

Hat tip to

Friday, November 17, 2006

Family Planning?

How can we have a new chief of "Family Planning" at the Department of Health and Human Services who doesn't believe in family planning? From the Washington Post:

The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as "demeaning to women."

Eric Keroack, medical director for A Woman's Concern, a nonprofit group based in Dorchester, Mass., will become deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the next two weeks, department spokeswoman Christina Pearson said yesterday.

Keroack, an obstetrician-gynecologist, will advise Secretary Mike Leavitt on matters such as reproductive health and adolescent pregnancy. He will oversee $283 million in annual family-planning grants that, according to HHS, are "designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons."

The appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, was the latest provocative personnel move by the White House since Democrats won control of Congress in this month's midterm elections. President Bush last week pushed the Senate to confirm John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations and this week renominated six candidates for appellate court judgeships who have previously been blocked by lawmakers. Democrats said the moves belie Bush's post-election promises of bipartisanship.

The Keroack appointment angered many family-planning advocates, who noted that A Woman's Concern supports sexual abstinence until marriage, opposes contraception and does not distribute information promoting birth control at its six centers in eastern Massachusetts.

"A Woman's Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness," the group's Web site says.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Great Day for Stem Cell Research in Missouri!

In the aftermath of the Democratic wave yesterday, I wanted to make special mention of the great news from Missouri. Not only did Claire McCaskill (D) win a senate seat, but the citizens of Missouri have voted in favor of Amendment 2, which will strengthen and promote human embryonic stem cell research in the Show-Me state! Rock on Missouri!

I lift a glass of lemonade in celebration!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Interior Design

I received this e-mail from the Union of Concerned Scientists. It looks like another case of Bush appointees at the Department of the Interior redesigning science to suit their needs.

Dear Eyedoc,

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that high-ranking political appointees within the Department of the Interior have rewritten numerous scientific documents to prevent the protection of several highly imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act....

This latest example of the abuse of science centers on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Julie MacDonald, a civil engineer with no biological training, personally changed scientific conclusions and ordered the agency to refrain from protecting several species under the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act requires the FWS to use the best available science when making decisions regarding what species should be protected under the Act. The documents showing MacDonald's edits and edicts were obtained by several conservation organizations through the Freedom of Information Act. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) brought the documents to the Washington Post in the context of the greater issue of political interference in science.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Thanks, Vesti!

I did a radio interview the other day on stem cell research, in response to the recent flap over Rush Limbaugh's shameful comments about Michael J. Fox's ads for political candidates who support stem cell research.

My cyberpal Vesti has posted a thread about this, so I refer you all to his website for your comments. Goodness knows he can use the traffic. [wink]

If you're too lazy to click on the link, I'd be interested to hear your comments about the fallout here.